A powerhouse of talent, Debra Byrd (born in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American vocaist who has worked with Barry Manilow and Bob Dylan, appeared on Broadway, and serves as the head vocal coach for American Idol and Canadian Idol, also singing backup for the contestants. She also helped judge Military Idol, a singing competition where all contestants are members of the United States Army.
Byrd’s resume is beyond impressive. From singing duets with some of the world’s best known recording artists, being the vocal coach for television, film and music talent and singing on numerous movie soundtracks to roles in five Broadway shows, doing voice overs for commercials, and conducting nationwide seminars, it’s no wonder Debra Byrd (known as ‘Byrd’) is in such high demand.
Her love of singing and performing took her to New York City where she auditioned for Barry Manilow.
Her long-time association with Manilow includes performing as his opening act for one of his incredibly successful international tours, providing back-up vocals for many of his performances, and creating the vocal arrangements for many of Manilow’s tours and shows, including his Emmy award winning television special and DVD Music & Passion, based on his popular Las Vegas show.
Byrd’s resume also includes singing duets with the legendary Bob Dylan, as well as touring, recording and/or appearing in videos with The Eurythmics, UB40, Lyle Lovett, Roberta Flack, Patti Austin and Bob Geldof. Additionally, you can hear her voice on numerous movie soundtracks. As an actor, Byrd received outstanding reviews for her role as ‘Da Singer’ in the national touring company of Bring In Bring in Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk. Byrd was also featured on Broadway in The Human Comedy, Barry Manilow on Broadway, Harlem Nocturne and both the national tour and Broadway’s Ain’t Misbehavin’.
Since its inception, Byrd has been the vocal coach and arranger for American Idol, as well as the show’s North American music tours. She is also the vocal coach and arranger for Canadian Idol, Seasons 2-7. Byrd brings her knowledge of musical expression and performance to groups of eager singers. With a natural gift for vocal artistry, Byrd not only helps the “future Idols” perform and arrange their music selections, she is a mentor and in many ways the heart of American Idol. “To be an Idol, you have to have more than a good voice. You need to have presence, a connection with the songs and understand what you’re presenting.” Byrd believes that one of the keys to vocal success is keeping the essence of what the songs represent by capturing what makes them special.
Sought after from coast to coast, Byrd is the vocal supervisor for the national tour of Ain’t Misbehavin’ (starring Ruben Studdard), as well as the special 30th anniversary production at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. She served as the vocal coach for the 2006 tour of High School Musical – The Concert and the Justin Timberlake, My Grammy Moment Contest. Byrd has been the vocal coach for various Holland America’s Cruise Line shows and ABC-TV’s All My Children.
The consummate artist, Byrd was born in Cleveland, Ohio to a musical family. She studied piano at an early age and studied opera for eight years beginning at age 12. As a teenager she co-founded and sang in two church choirs, performed in a band, and narrated children’s concerts for the Cleveland Orchestra, one of the world’s most revered ensembles. At the world renowned Karamu Theater, she received training in acting and improv while serving as musical director there as well as at the East Cleveland and Dobama Theaters.
In 2001, Byrd was nominated for a Black Theatre Alliance Award for ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ for Could It Be Magic? Byrd has developed an on-line vocal course, designed to give aspiring singers/performers from around the world the opportunity to study with her. Additionally, she is creating a line of herbal products to protect, soothe and enhance your voice. Her other product, Pocket Tones by Byrd, is an electronic pitch pipe that is easy to use and a valuable tool for anyone who sings.
HollywoodReporter.com January 11, 2011 Vocal Coach Debra Byrd Looks Back at a Decade of ‘American Idol’ – (click here to read)
ON THE GO [UX] December 7, 2009 Operation Rising Star, Idol for the Military – (click here to read)
YouTube.com November 17, 2009 Debra Byrd on YouTube – (click here to view)
YouTube.com September 5, 2008 AMERICAN IDOL: Debra Byrd – I’ll Never Love This Way Again – (click here to view)
CTV.ca April 9, 2008 Debra Byrd more than a vocal coach to Idols – (click here to read)
LOS ANGELES TIMES March 20, 2008 ‘Idol’ Tracker: Debra Byrd teaches the world to sing – (click here to read)
EW.COM March 10, 2008 ‘American Idol’: Burning Questions Answered! – (click here to read)
PRESS RELEASE September 10, 2007 Famed Vocal Coach Debra Byrd Teams Up with Choreographer Stepp Stewart for Vocal and Dance Seminars – (click here to read)
myFOXla.com May 16, 2007 Entertainment Extra! Debra Byrd – (click here to read)
myFOXla.com May 16, 2007 Debra Byrd Can Help Your Voice – (click here to read)
VENICE MAGAZINE May 2006
LOS ANGELES TIMES May 2006
POPSTAR MAGAZINE May 2006
ESSENCE MAGAZINE June 2005 Vocal Coach – (click here to read)
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